Megan Smith, 29, says she always believed her baby would make it. Doctors in Charlotte, North Carolina, weren’t so sure.
E’layah Faith weighed barely 10 ounces and 10 inches when she was born at just 26 weeks. That’s smaller than a soda can.
“A lot of babies at that size – we can’t even get them out of the delivery room, but she was incredibly vigorous and active,” Dr. Andrew Herman, a neonatologist and Interim Chief Medical Officer at Levine Children’s Hospital tells PEOPLE. “She was teeny tiny. Looking at her size, we realized it would be an incredibly difficult challenge to keep her alive and to get her to thrive and grow.”
Thanks to a specially concocted diet created just for her and a team of more than two dozen doctors and nurses, after four months in the hospital, E’layah now weighs more than five pounds and just spent her first night at home with her mom and dad, Smith’s fianc , Eric Pegues.
Smith says, “It’s wonderful. I’ve longed for this moment for so long. I wasn’t sure we would ever get home! She’s adapting pretty well, she’s looking around trying to figure out her surroundings. She’s very alert.”
Dr. Herman says baby E’layah could still face challenges. Cerebral palsy is a possibility. Learning disabilities may be an issue. But he says so far, she has beat the odds and he’s hoping she continues to surprise everyone.
“I probably would have given her a one percent chance of surviving and now to see her go home…I think of the birthdays, the holidays they’ll spend together – she’ll go out for Halloween, maybe someday have a family of her own. They may forget us – and that’s okay – but she’ll have a happy life.”
Smith says she will forever be grateful to the team that saved her baby.
“There was never any doubt in my mind that she’d make it,” the proud mom says.